Introduction: Homemade Guitar Slide

Picture of Homemade Guitar Slide

Many of you are probably not wondering: HAL, what did you do when you forgot to get one of your two friends a christmas present? Well, since he is into bluegrass guitar, I gave him one of these, which he mistook for a piece of broken glass.
This is how to make your own professional-seeming glass guitar slide from a bottle to get that nice bluesy sound, or to play any number of other types of music. This is a very easy method of making a great tool for guitarists, and makes great, cheap gifts for your guitarist friends.

Step 1: Gather Materials

Picture of Gather Materials

For this project you will need a few materials and tools. These are:

One bottle. This should have a very pronounced neck, unlike some beer bottles which just taper slightly to the top. The project will work best if the neck on your bottle has a long, straight section, like a wine bottle.

Glass Cutter. If you don't have one, get one. I got mine for i think $3.50 at the hardware store, and its very useful if you're into DIY. This is essential to the project.

Sandpaper. You could rub the glass on the wet sidewalk, this also works. I use a combination, since the sidewalk is rougher than my sandpaper.

You may also want gloves, since there is a guaranteed potential for broken glass. hearing protection is also advised, since there is also a potential for loud noises.

Step 2: Cut Around the Neck

Picture of Cut Around the Neck

In this step we will cut the bottleneck, which will become the slide. for this you need to know how to use a glass cutter.

A glass cutter does not actually cut glass, rather it scores a "weakest link" line into the glass which, when the glass is broken, will redirect the direction of the breaking along the scoring line.

To use your glass cutter score a line around the neck applying pressure with the cutting wheel along the glass, like in the picture. Try to make just one, straight line to get a good, clean cut.

Step 3: Smash Your Bottle

Picture of Smash Your Bottle

Now it's time smash your bottle. Grasp firmly by the neck, and swing the bottom of the bottle into something solid. This should not be something breakable, or something that you don't want small shards of glass on/in. I have always used the can we collect our glass bottles in as a receptacle, and it has worked quite well.
I have never actually shattered a bottle into pieces, there is a mostly clean break on the line. There are some very small fragments that will come off, smash it in something that will collect the pieces. There is also a chance that the bottle with shatter, so this is where you would want gloves and hearing protection. Broken glass specializes in cutting through flesh.

If you have cut it properly you will be left with a small tube of glass in your hands, but be careful, there will be one very sharp edge on the part which was until recently happily connected to the rest of the bottle. We take care of this mangler in the next step.

Step 4: Smooth Out the Edges

Picture of Smooth Out the Edges

Now you basically have a lovingly crafted weapon suitable for a prison/barroom fight. If you want this, set it aside, start over and continue with what will be your slide. It's time to get rid of the sharp edge.

You may wish to wear gloves for this as well.

Scrape the edge of your bottleneck on some smooth pavement. It will help it it's wet. Grind it at different angles to round out the broken edge until you can see that it is no longer sharp. If you wish to get a smoother edge, proceed to sandpaper and smooth as much as you like.

If you don't have access to some smooth pavement use sandpaper, since it works just as well, but not as quickly. Sand inside and out, leave no sharp cutting edges.

I prefer the rougher look and I only use sandpaper on the inside of the edge. I'm sure if you worked your way to finer sandpaper and polished, perhaps with a Dremel tool, you could get a nice, factory-looking edge on it. Since this is homemade, I'm fine with the homemade look.

Step 5: Play Some Delta Blues

Picture of Play Some Delta Blues

If you have no idea what you're doing, slides sound great on acoustic guitars. It's a fun way to get a nice bluesy sound, though slides are also found in country-western music and many other types. And even if you don't play, they make great gifts!
Now, Practice, Practice, Practice. Just slide it onto any finger (you'll develop a personal preference) of your fret hand and place it over the strings. Apply pressure enough to stop the string vibrations, but don't press the strings against the frets. Slide up and down the strings as you pick or strum.
Maybe i will make a future instructable on tuning and playing with a slide, but for now I'm still playing around with it. I have found that playing with the slide on my ring finger allows me to use my first and second fingers to dampen the portions of the string behind the slide, blocking out the weird, harmonic-like sounds i get otherwise. Remember, the slide doesn't go where your fingers go, it goes directly over whichever fret produces the desired note.

I hope you all have enjoyed this instructable, please rate, comment, and of course, try this one out for yourself. 

And remember, if the women don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy.


smokywasp (author)2017-11-13

You can also use a triangle file

fireman115 (author)2009-12-19

What do i do if i dont have a glass cutter?

smokywasp (author)fireman1152017-11-13

Use a triangle file.

RatRag99 (author)fireman1152010-02-04

 A hacksaw works well, but it takes patience. And glass breaks easily even if its a tiny cut. So really, just score the bottle with the hacksaw and then hold the neck and tap the bottle against a hard surface. It will break off right around your scoring mark and then you can sand down the edges.

HAL 9000 (author)fireman1152010-01-13

 You can get one for about $2, thats what i would recommend. there are other methods for "cutting" glass without one involving fire, water, string, etc. I didnt look into them too closely because I had a glass cutter. Just search around a little.

jazzguitar1963 (author)2015-06-24

If you want to get the scoring line dead straight, wrap about 3-4 layers of tape around the bottle neck to make a fence for the glass cutter. Masking tape is OK - electrical tape works better as it stretches to conform to the taper of the glass better.

Thank You! Valuable information.

owatson (author)2016-01-11

i tried using a dremel and i had just started a groove when the thermal expansion from the friction made the top crack off basically where i wanted it to

cripplehero (author)2014-04-27

mine ended up crooked

elibuu16 (author)2013-04-15

Does a bottleneck work on an acoustic guitar

guitarfan (author)2012-01-03

i found out that this is simpler with a dremmel tool and only takes 10 minutes, you have to wear eye protection unless you dont like to see

Acorns (author)2011-01-17

Very good HAL, i'l be making one soon ;-)

Joe Steelheart (author)2010-11-23

Copper slides r cool Wwipe down your guitar and y strings each time you play W #10 copper pipe. a vise, a file and a hacksaw, = (15) 3" slides for $10.
Rule #1 - Don't park a copper slide in your mouth, - poison
Rule #2 - Don't water it with your plants, it kills plants
Rule #3 - Keep it away from toddlers who put everything in their mouths, or
brother you will really get the blues.
Copper slides are light, fast and straight. How to play decent slide with a fat bottleneck with a lip or screwmount on it? DA could do it. I used to use dunlop glass slides, expensive. I kept breaking them when they fell out of my shirt pocket. The difference between the Dunlop and the homemade (copper) slide is wheh you put your plastic thumb and fingerpicks in the Dunlop slide, they fit perfect and stay in.

Nassmaster (author)2009-05-21

HI there, first ,thanks a lot for sharing this... can you tell me about the min/max Slide length ? cheers.

Eigenbroetler (author)Nassmaster2010-08-06

Well Nassmaster, you asked this question more than a year ago, but I figured I'd try to help anyway. I'm not sure if there is a standard length, but you want it to be as long as your fingerboard is wide. You could measure your fingerboard at the widest point and try to make your slide that long. OR--you could just make it 2-5/8 inches... because that's how long my store-bought slide is :). I dropped a Corona bottle a few weeks ago and the neck broke off, and it just happened to be 2-3/4" at the shortest point, so perhaps I'm in luck! Thanks HAL for the tutorial!

Nassmaster (author)Eigenbroetler2010-08-07

Thanks Eigenbroetler, By the way, I found that 3 inches or a little bit less was just perfect for me. keep sliding ;)

beauwalker23 (author)2009-03-04

Sweet man! Now all i gotta do is down my wine bottle! cheeers!

This could possibly be the most fun part of the project. Just don't make the slide until a good 6 hours later.

St.Louis (author)2010-06-03

Hehe, I (or one of my friends) made one of these when I was drunk once. Accidentally that is. After a big party I found a broken bottle of passoa in the yard. The neck was still pretty much intact, and it was perfect as a slide.

The sanding isn't really necessary, just put the other end on you finger ;)

S Timmerman (author)2010-02-01
I make and sell them VERY reasonable on my site -   I'll have more very soon  - I keep running out as I sell them at such a good price.  If you want a bunch contact me.    Or a certain color, with something painted on them ect.  I'm an artist. 

lusoc (author)2009-08-31

Another trick is to heat the score line over a candle and then immediately plunge it under cold water. This is much less violent and produces good results.

sammydiy09 (author)2009-06-23

I've got to try this!!

estefistefis (author)2009-04-17

Hey!! thanks a lot! i'm a guitar player and yeaH! this is gonna help me ;) greetings ;

lennyb (author)2008-01-13

good job. this is a similar method to how i made my own slides the main difference is i heated the scored line with a candle then rubbed the line with an icecube. the thermal shock cracked the glass and the neck came off in my hands with no need for thumping and banging. it also preserves the rest of the bottle for if you want to make a vase or something

mdog93 (author)lennyb2009-02-21

i used this method and it worked well apart from my line wasn't very straight in the first place but i just found a new way of doing it without having to scratch/score a line, the video is here:

it's basically the same as lenny's way but instead of scoring a line yoa wrap a line of thread around put lighter fuel on the thread burn it til it goes out then put it in water! really impressive

might give this method a go


lennyb (author)mdog932009-02-22

oh yeah i`ve seen that way . it works really well if you give it a nice clean burn with the fuel primarily on the thread. if its all down the glass you wont get a predictable cut.

HAL 9000 (author)lennyb2008-01-13

Oh, good idea. Breaking it like I do actually preserves the rest of the bottle too, if you look in my recycling bin you will see a bunch of decapitated wine bottles. It looks pretty funny.

smash10101 (author)2009-02-12

wow, I wish i had thought to look for one of these earlier. I put a bottle in a vice and tried to cut it with a hack saw. BAB IDEA. I got bored and tried to chisel it, but the bottle moved, 5 sec later It randomly exploded. DO NOT TRY THAT WITH OUT HEARING PROTECTION AND GLOVES AND GOGGLES. This makes it a lot easer, now I just need an excuse to drink a bottle of wine, to bad I'm under 21.

mdog93 (author)2009-01-29

do you think this groove will be roughly deep enough, because i did it with a file as somebody said you could in a comment. I know it's probably hard to see because the pictures were quick and rough but you will know better than me wehther it's good enough. thankyou, mdog

chimpanzeeboy (author)2009-01-15

I've just bought a glass cutter off ebay, i'm trying this as soon as it arrives :D

woodfinery (author)2009-01-07

Wood FineryEnjoyed the easy to follow steps on building a homemade slide. Now I have something to do with the empties!

treefrogjohnson (author)2008-05-14

haha nice. My dad and I were walking around Home Depot and found little copper tubes in various sizes that looked perfect for guitar slides. We each got one that fit us and tried them out. It works pretty well! I don't know the advantages of glass over copper though, or even if there are any disadvantages of using copper. But for 60 cents or so, you can't beat it.

Copper might get some oxide on your strings. Watch out they dont' get green and stain your guitar. You might consider polishing, coating with oil without touching it and leave your slide alone for a few weeks. Works on brass.

my strings are copper wound, so i'm not sure the slide would hurt them. copper stained fingers are hard to clean, though.

rickymojo (author)Esmagamus2008-09-29

Son House used copper slides. If its good enough for him, its good enough for 99.99% of guitarists, eh? If you wear copper jewlery all day and or night it turns your skin green. If you play an hour or so a day, no green my friend. Direct knowledge is the only knowledge that is true. Ruin your strings, stain your guitar? Anyone had this happen? You better take the penny out yer pocket, it may stain your pants. Think about it. Or experience it, even better. Peace.

Thanks for the tip. We don't use it often, so there's no real worry. My dad plays more lead than anything, and I play bass. Hopefully we'll be picking up some DR Coated Strings soon. That should ease the wear of whenever we do use copper slides. Though I may make a glass one soon.

Rishnai (author)treefrogjohnson2008-06-05

It's just a sound difference. Probably harmonics or something. You can listen to some blues records and tell right away, "Hey, that guy had a glass slide!" or whatever. I've used some plastic slides before, and they really have a bad sound to my ear. Both store-bought and homemade ones. Glass seems to have what I would call a softer edge to it than copper. Kinda like the sound difference between your guitar's tone knob set at 0 or set at 10, or bridge versus neck pickup. Same kinda change.

treefrogjohnson (author)Rishnai2008-06-05

Yeah, I see what you're saying. I'll probably try different ones out and mess and switch around just to experiment with different sounds. That's always fun. My dad had a glass one, but I'm not sure where it went...

Rishnai (author)treefrogjohnson2008-06-05

It really is amazing how one small change can make a big difference.

slucepan (author)2008-09-14

A diamond blade in a hack saw frame works well to cut off bottle necks.

Esmagamus (author)2008-06-17

Nice. I once had a surplus piece of shiny stainless stell tubing around here and just wrapped a layer of cotton adhesive bandage on each end. Loos good, and gets the work done.

TheMadTinker (author)2008-04-15

Nice instructable, tools definitely make making a bottleneck slide easier. When I made mine, I just dropped a bunch of wine bottles trying to figure out how best to break them so the neck stayed intact, eventually discovering that the best way to do this is to hold the bottle sideways, parallel to the ground, and drop it from about 1.5 feet, then you can just grind down the sharp edges on the sidewalk.

transmothra (author)2008-03-06

Way awesome! I always assumed that they were worn the other way around.

Yerboogieman (author)2008-02-17

one time i used a wrench, a speaker box, an altoids can, an AOL CD, my digital tuner, and my PSP, this way is probably alot better

carpespasm (author)2008-02-09

You can also use a torch to smooth the edge and give it a nice shine, just be sure to warm it up slowly or you might crack it like lennyb's scoring and shocking.

Mark Rehorst (author)2008-02-08

You can use a metal file to cut the glass too, so don't buy a glass cutter if you have a metal file in your tool box already. Bourbon bottles make the best sounding slides for playing blues. Wine bottles are for classical music. TD

GorillazMiko (author)2008-01-12

Too smart. People use bottles for slides, and you just made it easier, nice job, I might do this some time... +1 rating. (added to favorites)

gmoon (author)2008-01-12

The classic bottleneck slide....nice.

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm working towards a Bachelors Degree in Mechanical Engineering. This year I'll be transferring to a university to finish the last two years ... More »
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